By Cynthia Vaughan, Warrior Transition CommandMarch 9, 2016
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 24, 2016) -- The Army announced the Soldier and Veteran athletes who will represent the U.S. military and compete in the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, May 8-12. The Games will take place at the Walt Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Invictus Games are an international sporting event for wounded, ill and injured military personnel. The U.S. team will include active duty and veteran athletes from all U.S. military services and the Special Operations Command.
"All of the men and women who represent the U.S. team at the Invictus Games are examples of strength, resilience, and each of them are truly inspiring. I look forward to the competition in May. It is a way to honor wounded, ill and service members of nations around the world and showcase their ability to overcome adversity, adapt and succeed beyond measure," said Col. Chris Toner, Commander, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command and Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care and Transition.
Invictus Games will feature 500 military athletes from 15 countries and they will compete in archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair racing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis; as part of the international adaptive sports tournament for wounded, ill, and injured service members.
The inaugural Invictus Games were held in London in 2014. They are championed by Prince Harry, who on a trip to the Warrior Games in Colorado in 2013 saw how the power of sport could help physically, psychologically and socially.
According to Prince Harry, "These Games have shone a spotlight on the 'unconquerable' character of service men and women and their families and their 'Invictus' spirit. These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys to either. These Games have shown the very best of the human spirit."
U.S. 2016 team captain, retired Army Capt. Will Reynolds, a West Point graduate who lost his leg after an improvised explosive devise detonated in Iraq, shares similar sentiments. "When we all take the military oath we prepare ourselves for the worst. As a result, some become wounded, ill or injured. Having the opportunity to change the battlefield to a friendly competition field with international service members is a great honor. These athletes all have a common bond of striving to protect something larger than ourselves. Invictus Games provide the opportunity to show the world our resilience, our strength and that we are not defined by our wounds."
Reynolds has participated in DOD Warrior Games and the 2014 Invictus Games where he won four bronze medals in men's classified 100-meter and 200-meter athletics sprints, the Road Race and the Time Trial in cycling.
Invictus means unconquered and embodies the fighting spirit of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel and what these tenacious men and women can achieve, post injury. The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.
U.S Army competitor Capt. Kelly Elmlinger embodies the spirit of the Games. She deployed as a medic twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan and made it home safely. These deployments influenced her decision to become an Army nurse. Things changed for Elmlinger in March 2013 when she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare soft-tissue tumor found in her lower leg, next to her tibia. Elmlinger was treated on the same floor of Brooke Army Medical Center where she worked taking care of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.
Now she trains with them and competes with them. Elmlinger, who uses a prosthetic on her leg, has competed in Warrior Games and in the 2014 Invictus Games in London where she earned gold medals in the 100-meter and 400-meter women's wheelchair races. She also earned a gold medal in the women's shot put and a silver medal in discus. For cycling, she earned a gold medal for the time trial and a silver medal for the road race. For swimming, she earned a silver medal for the 50-meter backstroke and took fourth place in the 50-meter free stroke and 100-meter free stroke.
"The second games are just as exciting as the first Invictus Games," she said. "It's humbling for me that they will be here in the United States. More of my family and friends can come to see me compete."
Elmlinger, who is training for the Boston Marathon and also competing for a spot on Team Army at the 2016 DOD Warrior Games at West Point this June, doesn't believe in wasting her talent. "I do this for the people we lost, I don't want them looking down on me and seeing me wasting opportunities or not living life to the fullest. These are not just competitions, I want to give it my all. It's an opportunity to get better, to see new people, old friends and encourage and teach."
The following Soldier and Veteran athletes will support the U.S. military team at the 2016 Invictus Games:
• Staff Sgt. Ashley Anderson, Fort Riley, Kansas
• Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Armstead, Killeen, Texas (Veteran)
• Sgt. 1st Class Allen Armstrong, Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
• Staff Sgt. Robert Brown, World Class Athlete Program, Fort Carson, Colorado
• Cpt. Kelly Elmlinger, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
• Master Sgt. Rhoden Galloway, San Antonio, Texas (Veteran)
• Staff Sgt. Randi Gavell, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Veteran)
• Sgt. Robbie Gaupp, Gatesville, Texas (Veteran)
• Staff Sgt. Robert Green, San Antonio, Texas (Veteran)
• Sgt. Colton Harms, Fort Riley, Kansas
• Sgt. Sean Hook, Summerville, South Carolina (Veteran)
• Staff Sgt. Michael Kacer, Yonkers, New York (Veteran)
• Spc. Chasity Kuczer, Elizabethtown, Kentucky (Veteran)
• Sgt. 1st Class Katie Kuiper, San Antonio, Texas (Veteran)
• Sgt. Stephan LeRoy, North Jupiter, Florida (Veteran)
• Staff Sgt. Anna Manciaz, San Antonio, Texas (Veteran)
• Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, Fort Carson, Colorado
• Staff Sgt. Delvin Maston, Birmingham, Alabama (Veteran)
• Sgt. Robert Matthews, Sahuarita, Arizona (Veteran)
• Sgt. Ryan McIntosh, Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
• Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhall, Fort Benning, Georgia
• Staff Sgt. Billy Meeks, Las Cruses, New Mexico (Veteran)
• Sgt. Ola Nahale, Fort Schafter, Hawaii (Army National Guard)
• Staff Sgt. Tim Payne, Raleigh, North Carolina (Veteran)
• 1st Lt. Chris Parks, Fort Hood, Texas
• Sgt. Zed Pitts, 926th Engineer Brigade, Montgomery, Alabama (Army Reserve)
• Sgt. Haywood Range, San Antonio, Texas (Veteran)
• Cpt. William Reynolds, Bethesda, Maryland (Veteran and Team Captain)
• 2d Lt. Jennifer Schuble, Homewood, Alabama (Veteran)
• Staff Sgt. Alexander Shaw, Clarksville, Tennessee (Veteran)
• Sgt. 1st Class Michael Smith, Warrior Transition Command, Alexandria, Virginia
• Spc. Juan Soto, Arlington, Texas (Veteran)
• Sgt. Monica Southall, Henrico, Virginia (Veteran)
• Sgt. Aaron Stewart, San Antonio, Texas (Veteran)
• Sgt. Nicholas Titman, Colorado Springs, Colorado (Veteran)
Point of contact for information about Invictus Games Army Athletes is firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.325.0470.